In part due to obesity and other risk factors including smoking and drug use, the incidence of stroke among young people is increasing rapidly. According to NPR, 10% of strokes now occur in those aged 18-50, and the Lexington Herald-Leader reports that the percentage of young victims may be even higher. 

For skilled nursing and inpatient rehab facilities that can already expect to see a staggering increase in the need for rehab from the elderly – the number of people 85 and older needing rehab is expected to triple by 2050 – news of a growing need for therapy for young stroke patients shows that the demand for rehab will be even greater.

The article from NPR profiles one such young victim, 43-year-old Troy Hodge, who calls himself “new stroke.” Hodge suffered an intracerebral hemorrhage two years ago in his home. He remembers entering his bathroom to take his blood pressure medications before work, when he started to feel so hot that he had to sit down and splash himself with toilet water. When a concerned colleague entered Hodge’s home, she found Hodge on the floor and called for help.

"I remember telling her not to let me die," said Hodge, "and from then on I really don't remember that much."

Dr. Steven Kittner, University of Maryland School of Medicine neurologist, said that Hodge’s high blood pressure likely damaged tiny brain vessels. Hodge was also a smoker and suffered from diabetes, irregular cholesterol and obesity. “Perhaps, on the day of his stroke, the extra pressure on his circulatory system just caught up with him. Like water in a bent hose, the volume of blood moving through his body overloaded a delicate passageway deep inside his brain, and the vessel burst,” the article suggests.

Ischemic strokes (caused by a blockage in the blood vessel) are actually more common than the bleeding that Hodge experienced, but both types of brain disruptions and their increase are in part attributable to lifestyle factors. This underscores the ongoing need for education about healthy, sustainable eating habits and the importance of avoiding dangerous substances.

The rising rate of stroke in this population also means education about signs, symptoms and the urgency of treatment is as critical as ever. To boost awareness, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association teamed up with Tha Hip Hop Doc (you read that right) last year to produce this infectious rap that’s guaranteed to help people remember the warning signs of a stroke.

To read the full story of Troy Hodge’s recovery and rehabilitation, read “Strokes On the Rise Among Younger Adults” from NPR.

By Kindred Rehabilitation Services